Last April, I shared my thoughts that moving beyond the UDID was a good thing: (http://venturebeat.com/2012/04/17/developers-forced-to-find-alternatives-to-udid-and-thats-a-good-thing/).
In June, Apple announced the introduction of 2 new IDs in the UIDevice class as part of iOS6 (which will be available in the fall):
- identifierForAdvertising (IDFA) which is a cross-app/publisher identifier
- identifierForVendor (IDFV) which is a publisher-specific identifier
This is great news for the mobile app advertising industry, as it will significantly impact the industry’s revenue and growth.
Some reasons why IDFA is a better alternative to the UDID:
- Sanctioned by Apple – We have seen the birth of multiple alternatives recently (OpenUDID, ODIN, etc.), but none has really taken off. That’s because the industry is still immature and fragmented and there are so many companies that believe their individual approaches are better. As the platform owner, Apple has the power to make everyone follow and align under one, universal approach.
- Better than the UDID – According to information currently available, the IDFA is actually better suited for advertising purposes than the UDID, as the IDFA appears to act like a persistent cookie. Let’s take the example where a user sells his phone to someone else. With the old UDID model, the UDID would stay constant and the new phone owner’s profile data would get mixed in with the former owner’s data. With the new IDFA, if the original user resets his new phone, he will get a new IDFA and his profile will stay constant without any cross-contamination of profiles.
- Addresses privacy concerns – Although Apple has not made explicit statements regarding the opt-out mechanism that will come with the IDFA, it is likely that Apple will offer a way for users to opt out on a per advertising network basis. For example, the user could opt out of receiving ads from Google’s AdMob or even Apple’s own iAd network. The hope is that the opt in status is “on” by default, so that the mobile ad industry can work with the new ID system but simultaneously allow users who have concerns about tracking to opt out. This ability to opt out is likely the key to why Apple has replaced the UDID and come up with the IFDA as an acceptable alternative that balances the needs of the user and the mobile app advertising industry.
- Doesn’t require big development costs – For those advertising vendors who have been working on developing their own, independent post-UDID mechanisms, much of that code can easily be re-used and modified to include another ID from Apple in the mix. Therefore, development efforts will not have been in vain.
It’s now up to mobile advertisers to use this new ID and offer responsible advertising solutions with a focus on the following areas:
- No (or limited) collection of PII
- Consumer notice of collection and use of behavioral data
- Targeting only on non-PII behavioral data
- Conspicuous choice to opt out of behavioral advertising
—Michael Oiknine, CEO, Apsalar